WMS concert celebrates humanity’s diversity and unity

Program opens with Copland’s stirring Fanfare for the Common Man and closes with Tchaikovsky’s “Ukrainian” Symphony

Muskegon, Michigan, May 27, 2022—Although planned over a year ago, West Michigan Symphony’s upcoming “Around the World” concert resonates closely with what is happening around the world right now. Led by Music Director Scott Speck, the program opens with Aaron Copland’s moving and powerful paean to humanity, Fanfare for the Common Man—and concludes with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 “Ukrainian,” written by this most famous Russian composer in honor of the neighboring country he loved. 

The program comprises works of varying lengths and styles, alternating traditional Classical-Romantic with music of more recent origin—including two living composers. 

Global Warming, written in 1990 by Michael Abels, is not about climate change but refers to the spirit of optimism during a bygone era of warming international relations—symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Cold War. It remains a statement of hope even during this darker moment.

Chinese composer Chen Yi’s 1994 Shuo is a shimmering, sparkling amalgam of folk music stemming from her native country. The work was strongly influenced by her teenage years in forced labor at the height of Mao Zedong’s cultural revolution, during which Western music and art was forbidden. She was sustained by the only music available—the folk songs of her fellow peasant laborers. This influenced her conviction that “music is a universal language, improving understanding between peoples of different cultural backgrounds and helping to bring peace in the world.” 

In between these two new works will be Brahms’s joyful and lighthearted Hungarian Dances nos. 1 and 5.

“This program is a musical statement of hope for the future,” said Scott Speck. “With Chen Yi, we believe strongly in the power of music to bring people together. We invite the community to join us as we celebrate our common humanity—and help to restore faith in our collective ability to achieve peace.”

The performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 10 in the Frauenthal Center in downtown Muskegon. Scott Speck will lead a free “Lunch ‘n Learn” discussion outlining the music at 12 noon Wednesday, June 8 in The Block, WMS’s musical listening room at 360 Western Avenue.

For tickets to the concert, starting at $19 for adults, $10 for students, call 231.727.8001, visit the Frauenthal box office at 425 W. Western Avenue, or purchase online atwww.westmichigansymphony.org.  

“WMS Around the World” is sponsored by Raymond James of Muskegon. Blue Lake Public Radio is the media sponsor; the 2021-2022 Season is sponsored by Nichols and funded in part by a generous grant from the Michigan Arts & Culture Council (formerly MCACA) and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Safe Nights at the Symphony” Protocol WMS’s “Safe Nights” protocol remains in effect for this concert. Patrons of all ages are asked to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test (taken within 72 hours of concert.) WMS recommends, but no longer requires, the wearing of masks at concerts and events. Those under the minimum age for vaccination are welcome with proof of a negative test. 

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts